3-2-1: Josh Jacobs dominates first week of NFL season
The NFL season finally arrived and several former members of the Crimson Tide had career performances to open the season, although one name stands out among all the rest.
Today, we provide you with three things we’ve learned about Alabama’s players in the NFL after week one, ask two questions, and make one prediction involving tonight's games.
Three things we've learned
1. RB Josh Jacobs is the Bama in the NFL Player of the Week
Jacobs proved he was a man among boys when he powered the Raiders to a 34-30 victory over the Panthers on Sunday after carrying the ball 25 times for 93 yards and three touchdowns while catching four receptions for 46 yards.
"That was a little bit like (former Chicago Bear running back) Walter Payton used to play," Gruden said to Sacramento Bee reporter Anthony Galaviz. "It was hot as hell. He got beat up early. He insisted on coming back, and he insisted on getting the ball as a runner and receiver. He is special.”
2. Alabama players dominate fantasy rankings
After that kind of showing, it is probably no surprise that Jacobs scored more points (35.9) than any other running back. A full 7.5 points ahead of Carolina Panther Christian McCaffrey.
Other Alabama players to finish inside the top 10 at their position include:
2. WR Calvin Ridley- 33.9 points
6. WR Julio Jones- 24.7
7. TE O.J. Howard- 13.6
The Washington Football Team and Baltimore Ravens defenses also did well, scoring 17 and 12 points, respectively, to finish first and third this week. Each team boasts multiple defenders.
Alabama’s five defensive players for Washington recorded 13 of the team’s 61 tackles. They also combined for one of the team’s eight sacks and two additional tackles for loss.
Baltimore cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey and Anthony Averett didn’t fill up the stat sheet, but Humphrey did manage to record one interception and a solo tackle.
3. RB Kenyan Drake is still the guy in Arizona
His preseason stint in a walking boot sparked some to question whether Drake could actually hold onto a workhorse role in Arizona, especially with Chase Edmonds waiting for his shot to takeover.
On Sunday, Drake carried the ball 16 times for 60 yards. He also caught both his targets for five yards. Edmonds only got six carries for 26 yards, but he did catch three of five targets for 19 yards and a score.
.The biggest positive for Drake, is his score came when the game was truly on the line late, and in that moment the former Alabama running back delivered the game-winning score.
1. Is it Tua time yet?
On Sunday, Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick threw three interceptions and finished just under 200 yards passing in a 21-11 loss to New England.
It’s unlikely the Dolphins move on from Fitzpatrick this week, but another bad performance could be the beginning of the end for the veteran quarterback.
Back in July, I predicted that Tagovailoa would assume the starting role by week four.
Of course, Miami coach Brian Flores wasn’t ready to entertain questions about Tagovailoa’s departure from the bench ahead of Sunday’s contest.
"The entire team or the guys who are on the active roster have to be ready to go, and Tua is part of that," Flores said to Palm Beach Post reporter Joe Schad. "There’s no specific to pulling someone. It’s no different than if a guy goes down. The next guy’s got to be ready.
Flores can say that all he wants, but only four of 16 quarterbacks taken in the first round since 2015 waited more than four games. I don’t expect Tua to be the fifth.
2. Is O.J. Howard the guy again in Tampa?
In 2019, Howard averaged a career-worst 13.5 yards per catch after he hauled in only 34 receptions for 459 yards. Oh yeah, and he only scored once all season.
He matched that total on Sunday when he caught quarterback Tom Brady’s first passing touchdown since joining the Buccaneers. Howard finished the game with four receptions for 36 yards.
He also saw six total targets. Only receiver Chris Godwin saw more (seven targets). Howard’s six targets are also more than fellow tight ends Rob Gronkowski, and Cameron Brate saw combined (four).
Gronkowski’s role may increase later in the season, but for now, Howard appears to be the guy, and being younger than Brate and Gronkowski by three and six years, respectively, should help him hold onto it.
Prediction: Alabama will dominate Monday Night Football
Okay, so I have a history of being bold with these predictions. See my Tagovailoa prediction above, plus:
Still, I figured I’d keep it simple in week one.
There’s two games left to play, and six Alabama players are expected to start while two others, center J.C. Hassenauer and nose tackle Isaiah Buggs, could see time in a reserve role for the Steelers.
Pittsburgh Steelers at New York Giants (6:15 p.m.)
Minkah Fitzpatrick is the biggest name to watch in this one. Since arriving in Pittsburgh during week three last season, Fitzpatrick recorded 54 tackles, 33 solo, five interceptions, nine passes defended, two fumble recoveries, one forced fumble, and a defensive touchdown.
When it’s the Giants' turn to play defense, nose tackle Dalvin Tomlinson should get the start. He was recently named one of six team captains. His teammates' nomination is noteworthy because Tomlinson is the first defensive lineman to be named a captain for New York since Justin Tuck in 2013.
Tennessee Titans at Denver (9:10 p.m.)
Titans running back Derrick Henry almost willed Tennessee to the Super Bowl last season. In three postseason games, Henry carried the ball 83 times for 446 yards and two touchdowns. He also hauled in five receptions for 21 yards and threw a 3-yard touchdown pass.
Oh yeah, and he won the league rushing title in the regular season. Denver safety Kareem Jackson will be one of the unfortunate souls asked to slow Henry down. He recorded 66 tackles, 43 solo, two interceptions and defended 10 passes in only 13 games.
Linebacker Rashaan Evans will represent Tennessee on defense. He recorded 101 tackles, 59 solo, and finished with 2.5 sacks.
Receiver Jerry Jeudy is the last Alabama rookie set to make his NFL debut this weekend. Jeudy could be in for a huge day as Denver’s No. 1 receiver Courtland Sutton is expected to miss the game, or be limited, with a shoulder injury suffered in practice last week.